Wednesday, July 9, 2014

I was climbing and climbing

I knew I didn't feel comfortable, but I did it anyway. 

The indoor jungle gym at a local kids museum was one and half stories tall. "Would you like to go in there?" I could barely hear Beren's reply, "Mm hmm," over the clamor of children and parents. 

I read the rules of engagement. Nothing about height requirements to disqualify us, nor age. Under three, an adult companion was recommended. Most of the other children appeared much older than that, seven, say.

I almost walked out the room, but asked Beren again. Yes, indeed, he wanted to go in. Ok, don't hover, I thought. 

I walked Beren to the entrance of the labyrinth and let go of his hand. In he went. Within three minutes, I broke rule number two on the list: keep an eye on your child at all times.

I noted there were four exits from the jungle gym and one exit from the room. I shouted Beren's name into the labyrinth. Who could hear me anyway?

An older, smoky voiced woman told me he'd be fine, he'd come out sometime, and that she put here three year old nephew in there. 

"I can't see my kid, and I'm flipping out," I said to two other mothers and one father. Jared will kill me, I thought. No one replied, perhaps their eyes were trained on their own reappearing and disappearing kids. 

A staff person drifted by, and I repeated myself. "You can go up there," she said. "Yes, but if I do, and he comes down, I'll never find him. I'm flipping out." I described his clothes, and the young woman clambered into the gym.

She returned several minutes later. "I found him, but he wouldn't come down with me."

Good but bad. He was having a good time, he was unwilling to be escorted by a stranger, and/or he was immbolized with fear. 

I'd later learn that at least the first was true, and I hope that the second was, too. I've begun what I hope is a subtle but powerful confidence building when it comes to strangers. "Don't go with anyone other than Momma or Papa..." "You didn't want to talk to that person you didn't know. That's fine. You don't have to." I never chide my child into making nice with a stranger. And lots of adults do try to make nice..."your hair...blah blah..." "high five! No? No high five?" Nope, sorry. 

I felt a little more relaxed having had some word about my child. An adult manager came by, "Everything ok?"

"I can't see my kid, and I am really upset. I don't want to go in, in case he comes out," I said yet again. "It's impossible to keep an eye on him in there." I added, as a sort of apology. No other parents seemed concerned.

The young woman told the manager that shed gone in and Beren wouldn't come out.

"I'll go in," said the manager. Another young employee asked if I could bribe him down. If only, I could see or hear him.

Suddenly Beren appeared in one of many climbing areas. I shouted his name, and he looked at me. "Come down. Come down over here."

Luckily for me, he listened and descended. Hopefully, I thanked the employees. If not, I hope they understand. It probably happens frequently.

"See!" said the husky voiced woman. "You got him!"

I grabbed Beren's hand and pulled him to another section of the museum. He came willingly. My heart pounded. We colored with glowing markers under black lights, and I soon forgot the labyrinth.

I later asked Beren if he was scared in the jungle gym. I can't recall if he said yes or no. I probably wasn't listening because I was really asking myself. I told him I was scared, that I couldn't see him. 

"Was it fun?"

"Yes, I was climbing and climbing!"



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